Graduation address given by Swati Dave

Swati Dave gave the following occasional address at the University of Sydney Business School graduation ceremony held at 2.00pm on 4 October 2013 in the Great Hall.

Ms Dave is Executive General Manager, Specialised Finance, Product and Markets at National Australia Bank.

Graduation address

Pro-Chancellor, Associate Dean, Academic staff, Graduates, Parents and Friends

I’m delighted to be here to offer my congratulations to the graduates.

It’s truly an honour to share this moment with you because it’s so full of hope, enthusiasm and optimism about the future – it reminds me of how I felt almost 30 years ago...

Your journey to this point is a mark of your hard work and achievement. You’ve shown your dedication and determination to succeed.

No doubt your parents and your family, your teachers and your friends have also invested time and effort to help you reach this milestone. I’m sure there’ve been many sacrifices along the way too....

As you embark on the next phase of your life – it’s important that you take the time to reflect on your exceptionally good fortune in getting to this point - at this wonderful institution and say “thank-you” to these important people in your life.

You now have the academic credentials to start or perhaps further your career.

The world is full of opportunity and it’s now up to you as to how you make the most of it.

My own career in banking started in 1985 – and quite opportunistically. I didn’t set out with an ambition to become a banker but once I got there - I realised very quickly that it was a great opportunity to learn and to contribute given the important role that a bank plays in our society.

I’ve had some amazing roles and experiences over this time.

I’ve also made some mistakes and learnt from them and continue to do so even now.

That’s what makes life interesting and worthwhile.

I’d now like to share with you some of what I’ve learnt through my career:

Firstly - Live and work with purpose

We all have dreams and aspirations, which inspire us to reach for our goals – whatever they may be.

And while we’ll have different views of what success means and how we’ll get there, we all need to feel that our work is meaningful and appreciated.

That’s what I would encourage you to look for in your roles – it’s a choice you can make.

My dreams and aspirations motivate and drive me to do my best – it’s also what I draw upon when things are tough or not working out as I’d like them to.

I ‘ve consciously chosen to work in an area of banking where I can help improve people’s quality of life and I do this by financing things like hospitals, schools, roads and so on. It makes me feel good.

Secondly - Do something you’re passionate about

I’m passionate about my family and about making a valuable contribution to my community both locally and globally. I prioritise this in my life.

So when I’m doing what I really believe in or love, it doesn’t feel like I’m working. It feels like fun even though I’m working very hard. This kind of happiness is felt by the people around you, who’ll see the passion and energy and want to help you succeed.

There’s nothing more soul destroying than working in a job you’re not interested in. When this happens, people around you notice they’re not getting the best out of you – and you’re unlikely to do well.

That’s a waste of your talent, your potential and your energy.

Thirdly - Be an active learner

This is really about investing in your own personal growth and development. Whether you do this through formal education, through learning in your role or through other interests (like sporting or community group)s – it’s a good idea to keep broadening, refining and developing your skills.

It’s how you stay interested, relevant and productive.

It also helps you to adapt in a constantly changing environment.

I’ve done this throughout my career and continue to do so. It’s given me the confidence and the courage to try different roles that stretch me and force me to learn more – and prepare me for future roles.

Fourthly - Be a team player

Life is a team sport. We all need to be good team players – sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow. So whether it’s your personal or professional life, you’ll need to nurture, support and sustain relationships.

Understanding and engaging the people around you is really important if you want to succeed.

Finally - Give something back

At the beginning of my address, I spoke of the time and effort invested by your parents, your family, your teachers and your friends in getting you to this milestone.

It’s now time for you to start thinking about what you’ll give back.

You can do this while you’re building your career and in any way that works for you – it could be mentoring, volunteering, leading or supporting causes that you’re passionate about.

You’re all smart and motivated people and your point of view matters.

You have the ability to shape and influence agendas and outcomes and I suggest you do this early in your career and not wait till you are older, richer or wiser.

The process of giving and helping others will keep you connected with people and balance your intellect and ambition with compassion for others.

So in closing, I’d like to remind you that you have a choice about what future you create for yourself. You can choose what you do and who you work for.

Be passionate, be courageous, and have the self awareness and self confidence to achieve your dreams and aspirations.

I wish you all the best of luck.